Canadians are craving one-of-a-kind travel experiences close to home. More than a century ago, people flooded to the Yukon in search of gold. The crowds have gone, but the territory never lost its lustre. And winter is a cool time to visit.
Leave your hectic city life behind and make Whitehorse — the Yukon territory’s capital — your base for exploration. It has all the urban amenities you’d want with local flavours and without the maddening crowds you’ll find in other destinations.
Choose your own adventure
It doesn’t matter that there are only five to six hours of daylight. The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Enjoy the hot springs at night, ride the trails on a fat bike with a headlamp, or be dazzled by the northern lights. That’s what’s great about the Yukon. You choose your own adventure, and there’s a feeling that you have the place to yourself.
In the winter, getting to the Yukon is easy. Air North, Yukon’s airline, offers convenient non-stop flights from several southern destinations, including Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton. If coming from other Canadian cities, including Toronto and Montreal, travellers can fly to Vancouver and then conveniently connect to Whitehorse.
For many people, seeing the northern lights is a once-in-a-lifetime-bucket-list experience. Good news! The Yukon provides the perfect backdrop for Earth’s spectacular light show. And with the shorter days in winter, your chances of seeing the lights increase. But don’t sit around waiting; there are so many one-of-a-kind activities to do until the lights come on.
Biking like you never thought possible
Who said you couldn’t go biking in the winter? In the Yukon, it’s encouraged. With thick, oversized tires, fat biking, as it’s called, is a breeze. You’ll easily maneuver in the snow and can explore the wilderness differently than in other seasons. In winter, you can ride across a lake, rather than having to ride around it in summer. Some tour operators even offer a hot tub soak and northern lights experience after a day of fat biking.
With Whitehorse as your base, you can easily head out on the road, where you can experience the mountains and wide-open spaces. Highways throughout the territory are well maintained in winter. Two hours’ drive from Whitehorse, you can experience the majesty of Kluane National Park and Reserve, home to Mt. Logan, Canada’s highest peak. Looking for a different kind of experience? A short drive south from the capital takes you to Carcross, an amazing and colourful community within the traditional territory of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation.
This isn’t your summertime, stand at the edge of a lake or river kind of fishing. This is a unique experience. Start your adventure snowmobiling across a lake and drilling a hole in the ice. Often accompanied by clear skies and brilliant sunshine, the ice fishing season can begin mid-winter and last into the spring. Think of the fish tales you’ll be able to share. Don’t worry if you’ve never done this before; you can rent gear and clothes to keep warm.
While most bears are asleep, the Yukon still boasts lots of wildlife to see during winter. On your adventures, you might catch sight of moose, deer, or lynx. For a unique experience, you’ll want to check out the 350-acre Yukon Wildlife Preserve, where you can see more than a dozen iconic Yukon species in a large, natural habit. Most people walk the five-kilometre loop trail, but you can kick up the adrenaline by kicksledding or cross-country skiing through the Preserve.